Some might put their inability to break their food cravings down to ill-discipline or to just a normal part of everyday life. But when last have you stopped to ask yourself what’s behind your insatiable hunger?
No two bodies are the same, and therefore no two reasons for a specific food craving are necessarily the same. However, with a little effort, you can translate these signals into understanding the reasons for improved health and even weight loss.
Before we get to what specific cravings might mean, let’s look at causes.
Cravings are either physiological; caused by a shortage or overproduction of hormones or a specific nutrient.
- Imbalances with hunger and fullness hormones known as leptin and ghrelin
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) due to changes in the hormone’s estrogen and progesterone
- Gut flora. There is some evidence that the type of bacteria present in your gut may influence the frequency and type of cravings you may have.
Or they can be psychological; caused by a beaucoup of emotions.
- Stress. This can increase your levels of the hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels may be linked to hunger, cravings, and a higher likelihood of stress- or binge-eating behaviours.
- Your personality. Some evidence suggests that people who are more impulsive or have higher scores on measures of addictive personality, may also have a higher likelihood of experiencing food cravings.
- Eating context. Your brain can associate eating a specific food to a specific context — for instance, popcorn and a movie. This may cause you to crave that particular food the next time the same context comes around.
Cravings can also be categorised into selective or nonselective cravings.
Selective cravings are cravings for specific foods or flavours whilst nonselective is the desire to eat anything, which, coincidently might actually be a sign of thirst not hunger.
let’s look at the more common cravings and how to balance these:
- Low on energy
- Blood Sugar imbalance
- Chromium or Magnesium deficiencies
- Fatty Acid deficiency
- Fresh Fruit.
- Indulging in some me time, such as a massage or a long walk.
- Opt for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa rich in antioxidants.
- Sparkling water with a squeeze of fruit juice or a slice of orange can replace a craving for fizzy drinks.
- Low electrolyte levels
- Chloride Deficiency
- Iodine deficiency
Stress may also cause weight gain even without food cravings. Stress results in higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which may promote abdominal fat.
- Vitamin B rich foods (Nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables)
- Deep Breathing
- Try replacing unhealthy snacks like crisps with a salty snack that is higher in protein, such as salted cashews or peanuts or biltong. Air-popped popcorn is another great option.
- Calcium Deficiency
- Fatty Acid Deficiency
- Eat healthy fat
- Eat enough protein
- Increase your fruit intake
- Try replacing full fat with low fat
Food cravings can lead a person to eat foods that have adverse health effects, and they can disrupt efforts to follow a beneficial diet. Having some knowledge about what our cravings can mean, may help us to reduce unhealthy habits and poor food choices.
Date Published: 13 April 2022